May 2003

The Problem

Members of the Commission on Women and Gender Equity have learned that many Colorado State staff perceived the distribution of professional development opportunities on campus to be inequitable.  One case that prompted our attention was the 2003 Career Enhancement Grant.  Only tenure track faculty and administrative professionals could apply; tenure track faculty were given clear preference.  Another case in point was the recognition that state classified employees often cannot access professional development courses provided at cost through Human Resource Services because supervisors will not provide even small amounts for required course materials.  Further, Commission members have learned that not all supervisors allow employees the flexibility to take advantage of the University’s educational benefits and professional development opportunities.

Recommendations
  1. University leaders at the highest level should endorse the value of all employees’ efforts to achieve professional development.  Supervisors at all levels should be regularly reminded that employees in their units are entitled to access the University’s educational and professional development resources, even when those resources are not directly related to employees’ current responsibilities.
  2. University policy should explicitly identify “providing profession development opportunities for employees” as part of every supervisor’s responsibility.  At present, only state classified supervisors have this listed as part of their job description, and that statement is too obscure to suggest professional development as a University priority.  (See the state classified performance evaluation form under “Supervision/Performance Management” competency, where it notes that a successful supervisor “provides…training for employees.”)
  3. University leaders should encourage inclusive program design for in-house professional development activities and resources.
  4. University leaders should encourage campus units to use local expertise to expand the in-house professional development resource base.
  5. University leaders should encourage units sponsoring program development activities to open them to other units across campus whenever possible.
  6. The University should develop a centralized schedule of existing in-house professional development opportunities.  This schedule should be accessible via the web through the Office of Human Resource Services.
  7. University policy should specify that units awarding grants for professional development will consider all three categories of employees – faculty, administrative professionals, and classified staff – as they call for proposals.  Such grant competitions may, for example, earmark allocation for various categories of employees.  Since some funding sources are developed for specific employee purposes, the Provost’s Office, in conjunction with Human Resource Services, will establish a list of exemptions from this requirement.
  8. The Office of Human Resource Services will be charged with facilitating items 6 and 7 above.
Rational
  • All categories of University employees would benefit from professional development access and support.
  • Intentionally inclusive design of professional development opportunities is cost-effective.
  • International inclusive design of professional development opportunities builds a more integrated university community.
  • Employee categories are heavily skewed by gender.  While faculty is 25.7% female, classified staff is 65% female.  Thus, providing support for campus professional development opportunities to all categories of university employees may also serve to enhance gender equity.
  • In times of diminished financial resources, in-house opportunities for employee development and reward take on increased importance for maintaining job satisfaction and morale.